pumpkin pie bars recipe

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Pumpkin Pie Bars

November 16, 2023

You have a long list of things to stress about on Thanksgiving day, but turning out a perfectly flakey, all-butter […]

pumpkin pie bars cut into 16 squares on wire cooling rack

You have a long list of things to stress about on Thanksgiving day, but turning out a perfectly flakey, all-butter pie crust isn’t one of them. Making a traditional pie crust can be time consuming….all the rolling and chilling. It’s not for me. Enter these easy pumpkin pie bars. Easy, delicious and made to feed a crowd – they’re Fall dessert perfection!

Why are these pumpkin pie bars so good?

These easy pumpkin pie bars have all of your favorite Fall flavors in one simple, handheld treat. Here’s a few reasons why I love these bars:

Quick and easy holiday dessert. Pumpkin desserts are always a popular choice for Thanksgiving These bars are just as delicious as traditional pumpkin pie (scratch that, they’re BETTER!) but they’re so much easier to make.

Delicious, cozy Fall flavors. Brimming with warm Fall spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, these bars are a must for your turkey day menu!

No fuss crust! A simple press in shortbread crust requires no rolling, no chilling and no pie weights. It adds a delightful crunch to every bite.

Perfect for parties. Think of these bars as pie that feeds a crowd! Cut the bars into 16 squares for delicious handheld individual servings – perfect for toting to Friendsgiving or on your holiday dessert buffet.

closeup of pumpkin pie bars with shortbread crust

Ingredients

These bars are easy to whip up at a moment’s notice with just a handful of pantry staples. Keep your cupboard stocked with canned pumpkin and you can enjoy these pumpkin squares all season long. Here’s your shopping list:

  • Flour – for best results, use a digital kitchen scale to measure the flour. Too much flour will throw off the texture of the bars.
  • Butter – be sure to soften your butter to room temperature before making the shortbread crust.
  • Sugar – we’re using both granulated and light brown sugar for the best flavor and texture. Dark brown sugar will work in a pinch!
  • Eggs – like the butter, eggs should be at room temperature.
  • Pumpkin puree – this recipe calls for a whole can of pumpkin puree, not to be mistaken for “pumpkin pie filling”.
  • Heavy whipping cream – makes the pumpkin pie filling rich and extra creamy.
  • Pumpkin pie spice – gives the bars that classic, cozy Fall flavor. If you prefer to make your own pumpkin pie spice from scratch, mix together 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon all-spice and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg.
  • Vanilla – just a splash adds the perfect flavor!
pumpkin pie bars topped with dollops of whipped cream and sprinkle of nutmeg

How to make pumpkin pie bars

These pumpkin pie bars are so much easier to make than pie. We start with a simple press in shortbread crust and then add a creamy pumpkin pie filling and dollops of freshly whipped cream. Follow this simple step-by-step guide and check the recipe card below for ingredients and detailed instructions.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Allow the sides of the parchment to extend over the sides of the pan by 1 to 2 inches for easy removal of the bars once baked. Set aside.

Step 2: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Step 3: Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg and vanilla. Mix to combine well. 

Step 4: Add the dry ingredients and mix just until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Do not over mix.

Step 5: Press the shortbread dough into the prepared baking pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press it in evenly and level on top. Bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden brown and the center is barely set. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool slightly while you make the filling. Note: Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.

Step 6: In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla until well combined. Add the cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt. Whisk to combine well.

Step 7: Pour the pumpkin pie filling over the shortbread crust. Place the baking pan on top of a large baking sheet.

Step 8: Carefully transfer to the oven and bake at 400°F for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for about 40 more minutes or until the edges are set and the center is a still slightly jiggly when you move the pan. Do not over bake. The bars will set as they cool.

Step 9: Remove the pan from the oven and cool for 45 to 60 minutes on a wire rack. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Step 10: Top with swirls of freshly whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Slice and serve.

pumpkin bars sliced into squares and topped with whipped cream and grated nutmeg

Variations

These bars are perfect just the way they are but if you’re looking for a few ideas to take them to the next level, give these variations a try:

Biscoff cookie crust – Biscoff cookies are crisp shortbread cookies with warm spices and a rich, caramel flavor. They pair nicely with pumpkin and make for a delicious alternative to traditional pie crust.

Toasted meringue – instead of whipped cream, add a layer of meringue and toast it with a kitchen torch for a pillowy soft topping that tastes like toasted marshmallows!

Salted caramel – pumpkin and caramel are a match made in heaven! Pour your favorite caramel over the bars once cooled for a rich and gooey dessert. A scoop of ice cream wouldn’t hurt either!

Bourbon whipped cream – add a splash of high-quality bourbon to the heavy cream before whipping it for a boozy twist.

cross section of pumpkin bars with shortbread crust

How to store

My family devoured these pumpkin pie bars in minutes – there wasn’t a single square left over. Like traditional pumpkin pie, these bars should be stored in the refrigerator and kept chilled until ready to serve. To freeze, cool completely and then wrap tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator for about 6 hours and top with whipped cream just before serving.

pumpkin pie bars with whipped cream

Happy Thanksgiving and happy baking!

Looking for more easy and delicious Thanksgiving desserts? You’ll love these recipes:

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pumpkin pie bars recipe

Pumpkin Pie Bars Recipe

  • Author: Heather Mubarak
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 70 minutes
  • Yield: 16 squares 1x
  • Category: Bars & Brownies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These pumpkin pie bars taste just like pumpkin pie but are so much easier to make. Made with simple shortbread crust and a creamy pumpkin filling, these bars are perfect for feeding a crowd!


Ingredients

Units Scale

For Shortbread Crust

  • 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (205 g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For Pumpkin Filling

  • 1 15ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup (66 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions

For Shortbread Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Allow the sides of the parchment to extend over the sides of the pan by 2 inches for easy removal of the bars once baked. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix to combine well.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Do not over mix.
  5. Press the shortbread dough into the prepared baking pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the dough into the corners of the pan and level the top. Bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden brown and the center is barely set, but not raw. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool slightly while you make the filling.

**Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.

For Pumpkin Filling

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla until well combined.
  2. Add the cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt. Whisk to combine well.

  3. Pour the pumpkin pie filling over the pre-baked shortbread crust. Place the baking pan on top of a large baking sheet.

  4. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake at 400°F for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for about 40 more minutes or until the edges are set and the center is a still slightly wiggly when you move the pan. Do not over bake.

  5. Remove the pan from the oven and cool for 45 to 60 minutes on a wire rack. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

  6. Top with swirls of freshly whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Slice and serve.

For Whipped Cream Topping

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer), mix the heavy whipping cream with powdered sugar on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes until firm peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to use.


Notes

Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Serve chilled.

May be frozen. For best results, freeze the bars before adding the whipped cream topping. Defrost at room temperature before serving.

Keywords: pumpkin pie bars, pumpkin pie

  • Reply
    Suzie
    November 28, 2023 at 2:41 pm

    Everybody raved about this twist on the classic and it was so easy to bake! Everyone enjoyed it and said it was their new favorite way to eat pumpkin pie, thanks for the recipe!

  • Reply
    Matt Murray
    November 24, 2023 at 3:33 pm

    While the shortbread smelled absolutely awesome while baking, I think the taste was underwhelming. I was hoping for a shortbread taste and texture but it seemed to absorb the pumpkin and was all but cancelled out. The pumpkin part was SPECTACULAR!!!
    Any suggestions???

  • Reply
    Emily
    November 23, 2023 at 11:30 pm

    These MADE our Thanksgiving! I don’t always love pumpkin pie because the crust to custard ratio isn’t even! The nice, THICK shortbread crust made these absolutely heavenly. Cannot wait to eat the one leftover one I had to hide so it wouldn’t get stolen! Will be making every year from now on!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    November 18, 2023 at 2:35 am

    Are you kidding! These taste as good as they look. Forget the same old pumpkin pie this year and make these!

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